Advice on car tyres

12th, January 2009

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Tyres must have tread at least 1.6mm deep

  • By law, you must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread in a continuous band across three-quarters of the tread width and around the whole circumference of your car tyres. However, the performance of car tyres will deteriorate well before the legal minimum depth is reached, particularly in bad weather. You should monitor wear and change the car tyres when the tread depth reaches 2mm-3mm.
  • The ‘driven’ wheels (as in front- or rear-wheel drive) do most of the work. So these sets of car tyres tend to wear out more quickly. To make a set of car tyres last longer, you can ask your garage to swap the front and back ones over periodically – but it’s important to check the recommendations in your car’s handbook. Also, work out any difference in price between the cost of doing this and buying replacement car tyres instead.
  • A misaligned suspension can lead to uneven car tyre wear. If you notice your car pulling to one side or excessive wear to the inner or outer shoulders of the tyre, ask a tyre dealer to check your car’s alignment (this is also sometimes called tracking).
  • An unbalanced wheel creates vibration through the steering wheel and can cause irregular wear in the tread, as well as discomfort to the driver. Get the wheel balanced whenever you have a tyre fitted, or if you notice any unusual vibration. Some tyre fitters include balancing in the price of the tyre. 
  • Some damage to car tyres cannot be repaired. For example, a puncture on or near a tyre sidewall can’t be fixed. But minor damage can be repaired and is considerably cheaper than buying a brand new car tyre.
  • If you’re in any doubt about the safety or condition of your car tyres, ask an expert to inspect them.
  • The Which? guide to buying cheap car tyres can help you decide whether to buy part worn tyres.
  • You can find more advice and information from the tyre industry's safety body, Tyresafe.

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